Supporters of axed Durban mayor Zandile Gumede’s plan to re-elect her as ANC eThekwini chairperson in October, and then force the governing party to reinstate her — and field her as mayoral candidate for the 2021 local government elections.
They will also go to court to challenge the decision taken this Tuesday, by the party’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC), to redeploy Gumede and the entire Durban and Pietermaritzburg executive committees (Excos). It said its reasoning was poor performance by Gumede and the committees.
Gumede’s supporters, who brought the Durban CBD to a standstill with violent protests when she was forced to take leave after her arrest on corruption charges in May, did not march in her defence this week. They have undertaken to do so should the ANC go ahead with its moves against her.
Gumede was arrested over an unlawful R208-million refuse removal tender in May and placed on leave by the ANC leadership. However, on Tuesday, ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli announced the decision to redeploy the ANC deployees to the two Excos, saying they would be replaced in seven days but would continue to serve as councillors.
Mzomuhle Dube, spokesperson for eThekwini branches which support Gumede, said on Wednesday that they were studying the report on which the PEC had based the decision to fire her, with a view to challenging it in court.
“When they asked the mayor to take leave, it was based on issues of her conflict with the law. When that process did not yield any result, they did not have the decency to say the process is closed and we are going to initiate a new process to talk about performance,” Dube said.
Dube said the PEC had not redeployed Gumede, but had instead carried out a reshuffle, or process of demoting her, as she was being retained as a councillor within the same council.
“We are waiting to see what unfolds while studying the report with the intention of pursuing other avenues…which should be the courts,” Dube said.
Dube said they had no intention of walking away from the ANC and would instead ensure that Gumede was re-elected as eThekwini regional chairperson in October, paving the way for her to be returned as mayor.
“We are definitely not going to move out of the ANC. That is why we are taking up these issues. We are definitely going to back the mayor for re-election as chairperson. We are fully behind her as she is a woman who can lead,” Dube said.
“To be a mayor you have to be nominated at the list conference. She was featured as number one on the eThekwini list, not by accident,” he said.
Dube said they were planning a separate legal challenge to the PEC decision to dissolve the eThekwini REC and replace it with a regional task team to handle preparations for the regional conference.
“The first issue is to take up the matter of the dissolution of the regional structure by the PEC. This will assist us in designing a programme building up to the regional conference in October,” he said.
Dube said the believed that Gumede’s redeployment was part of a “purge” of ANC leaders who had opposed the ‘“unity” provincial slate which successfully contested last year’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference.
“This is part of the purge. We went to court on Thursday and there was no case against the mayor,” Dube said.
On Tuesday, ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, addressing an ANCWL interaction with Ramaphosa, made a thinly-veiled threat of a breakaway in response to the ANC’s handling of the Gumede matter.
“If we are not careful, in the near future, the very women who have swelled the ranks of the ANC are going to form their own organisation,” she said.
On Wednesday, Dlamini met with the ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership to discuss the redeployments. At the time of publication, the outcome of the meeting was not known.